Vegan BBQ Pan Fried Tofu

With summer here, you will find many invites to wonderful BBQ parties. Many families proudly take their grills out onto their porches and backyards to grill with their family and friends. It is, indeed, one of the best gatherings for everyone, and everyone looks forward to it.

The only issue that arises, particularly for my vegan friends, is what they will eat. Burgers? Hot Dogs? Chicken? Seriously, there aren’t many vegan barbeque options usually other than some chips, grilled veggies, and salads.

Don’t worry though, I’ve got you covered with my personal favorite barbecue tofu recipe, Vegan BBQ Pan-Fried Tofu. It is without a doubt one of the best meat substitutes for our vegan friends. Believe me when I say that any meat lover will fall in love with it.

The catch is that it is pan-friend and uses a BBQ sauce, so anyone can make it without a grill. It is the ideal choice for lunch, dinner, and BBQ parties.

It is one of my favorite BBQ tofu recipes because it is so simple to prepare. The crispy tofu with the BBQ sauce is heavenly and so savory that you can snack on it guilt free.

The soft internal texture of tofu takes on the seasoning that we add, and the crispy outside will make you dance in utter bliss. In this blog, I will briefly discuss how to make it and eat it.

What is Tofu?

Tofu, also known as bean curd, is made from soy milk. The process of making tofu Is actually more like making cheese from soy milk, and it comes in blocks.

It is classified into three types based on its texture: silken tofu, firm tofu, and extra-firm tofu; as a result, it is widely used in many dishes, soups, and even as a vegan substitute for meat.

Tofu was invented in China and has been used for over 2000 years. Believe it or not, it was accidentally made by a cook who added nigari seaweed to soy milk, and it later became one of the Cuisine’s signatures. It was introduced to Japan in the early 18th century and quickly became the nation’s favorite.

Overall, tofu is a fantastic flavor absorber. You can season it, marinate it, and cook it in a skillet or even a grill. Because tofu is high in protein and amino acids, it can be used in a variety of ways as a meat substitute.

It’s also gluten-free, making it an excellent choice for anyone suffering from gluten intolerance.

Ingredient breakdown

Making this easy bbq tofu requires only a few simple ingredients that are always on hand in your pantry or local grocery store. You can make this dish with only 6 ingredients and enjoy it every time! Here is a detailed breakdown of the ingredients, as well as possible substitutes:

  • Tofu: It serves as the dish’s protein and foundation. Because it contains less water and does not melt in the pan when cooked, the tofu should be extra firm.               
  • Cornstarch: To make the tofu extra crispy after it’s been cooked. It also aids in sticking the spiced over the tofu for flavor. You can also use potato starch, which is gluten free.
  • Garlic powder: It gives the tofu a delicious garlicky flavor. For a stronger flavor, use garlic granules instead of garlic powder, but use half the amount.
  • Onion powder: It gives a savory onion flavor to the tofu when grilled.
  • Fresh black pepper: It also helps in developing a delicious and spicy flavor with a hint of smokiness to the tofu once it hits the pan.
  • BBQ sauce: For that BBQ kick with the crispy outer of the tofu. Feel free to use your favorite BBQ sauce for the extra burst of deliciousness.
  • Oil: A drizzle of cooking oil helps in evenly cooking the tofu, resulting in beautiful crispiness.

How to make Vegan BBQ Pan-Fried Tofu

Step#1: First and foremost, your tofu must be drained. The best way to drain tofu is to remove it from the liquid and place it in a deep dish. Place a piece of parchment and some weight on top of the tofu. I use a tofu press, but you can use a pot or heavy pan. Allow the tofu to sit under the weight for 15 to 30 minutes to allow all of the liquid to drain.

Step#2: After the tofu is drained, remove the weight from the tofu. Then, with a clean kitchen towel, pat the tofu dry.

Step#3: Next, slice the tofu in half and cut them into bite-sized pieces.

Step#4: Place the cubes of the tofu in a larger bowl. Season the tofu cubes with garlic powder, onion powder, and freshly cracked black pepper. Gently toss the tofu to avoid crumbling. Next, coat the tofu cubes in the seasoning.

Step#5: To make the tofu crispier, place the cornstarch in a small dish or bowl and dip the cube inside. Make sure the tofu cubes are completely covered in cornstarch and try to dust off any excess cornstarch.

Step#6: Now, take a large skillet and drizzle cooking oil over it. Line the dusted tofu cubes onto the skillet.

Step#7: Next, allow the oil to heat up in the skillet over medium-high heat.

Step#8: Get the gold-brown crispy edges on all sides of tofu by pan-frying. Once done browning, remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. To remove excess oil, you can also use a plate with paper towels.

Step#10: Place the tofu in a bowl and drizzle with your favorite BBQ sauce. Toss the crispy pan-fried tofu pieces in the BBQ sauce until completely coated.

Step#11: Serve the tofu with your favorite dips or sides and enjoy these delicious pockets of flavors.

Tips for perfect Pan-Fried Tofu

Sometimes it is very tricky to handle the tofu but do not worry, here are a few tips for making perfect and delicious vegan barbeque tofu every time:

  • Try to get the firm and non-silken tofu with low water content. If not, the tofu will melt as soon as it touches the pan and begins to heat up.
  • Even if you have extra-firm tofu, it is very important to drain it for at least 15 minutes. The draining not only removes the excess water from inside, but it also helps with seasoning. Tofu that has been well-drained will absorb any flavor you add to it.
  • Dust off the excess cornstarch of the tofu cubes. It is important because the excessive cornstarch may dust off and burn in the pan. It will also give a slightly bitter taste to the tofu.
  • Heat the skillet after adding the dusted tofu. If you drop the tofu directly into the heated oil, the tofu may burn and will not be deliciously crispy.
  • Let the tofu rest for 5 minutes on the cooling rack or the plate lined with a towel. This will make them very crispy and help the BBQ sauce to coat over them easily.

Serving Ideas

This vegan fried tofu recipe is so versatile that you can enjoy it on its own. But, to kick things up a notch, here are a few of my favorite ways to eat and serve the pan-fried BBQ tofu:

  • You can serve the vegan fried tofu with vegan mayo as a dip.
  • Fried BBQ tofu is perfect with mashed potatoes and coleslaw for the side dishes.
  • It can be used in a burger or sandwich as well.
  • Greens and brussels sprouts pair well with vegan BBQ tofu.
  • Also, it can be eaten with grits.
  • You can use it as a topping for many salads as well.
  • You can also serve the fried tofu and the BBQ sauce separately for everyone to enjoy according to their sauce to tofu ratio preference.

Can you make a Vegan BBQ Pan-Fried Tofu ahead of time?

Pan-fried BBQ tofu can be tricky for long-serving. It is better to serve and eat the pan-fried crispy tofu shortly after it is tossed in the BBQ sauce because it loses the crispiness and firm texture quickly.

The texture changes so quickly that it is no longer appealing.

How to store Vegan BBQ Pan-Fried Tofu?

To maintain crispiness, Vegan BBQ Pan-Fried tofu should not be stored as a whole dish. However, there is a way to store the components separately. I recommend storing the fried tofu without the BBQ sauce so that the deliciously crispy texture is preserved.

If you have any leftover fried tofu, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. You can reheat it by baking it at 400 degrees for 5 minutes and then tossing it in BBQ sauce.

You can also freeze the fried tofu for three months. Simply place the tofu in an airtight container and freeze. To reheat the tofu, bake in a preheated 400 degrees oven for 10 minutes without thawing.

After that, toss the tofu in the BBQ sauce and enjoy!

Vegan BBQ Pan Fried Tofu

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 2 servings


  • 14 ounces extra firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • fresh black pepper
  • oil for cooking
  • 1/3 cup BBQ sauce


  • Drain and press tofu to remove liquid. Press for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Once the tofu has drained, slice in half then into cubes and place into a large bowl. Sprinkle on garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper and gently toss with your hands to ensure all tofu pieces are covered.
  • Dip each tofu cube into a small bowl of cornstarch. Make sure all sides of the tofu cubes are covered.
  • Line a large skillet with oil and bring up to medium-high heat.
  • Once oil is heated, add the tofu to the skillet and brown on all sides. Remove and place on a cooling rack or a plate lined with paper towels.
  • Add tofu to a bowl and drizzle with BBQ sauce. Toss the tofu around to coat and then serve with your favorite sides. Enjoy!
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